Alpha-Stim® vs. TENS Therapy for Pain Relief

Both Alpha-Stim and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units are used to provide drug-free pain treatment, but there is a big difference in what they do and how they perform.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is electricity. They both provide pain relief via an electrical device, but that’s where the similarities end.

How Does a TENS Unit and Alpha-Stim Device Work?

A TENS unit applies an electrical current through electrode patches that stick onto the surface of the skin, directly where the pain is, and is often used to treat symptoms such as back pain or aching muscles. It creates a tingling sensation that temporarily blocks pain signals using the gate theory.

When treating pain, Alpha-Stim uses Smart Probes or AS-Trodes™ to deliver a patented, complex waveform via microcurrent electrical therapy (MET) to modulate or change the pain signal instead of blocking it. It is FDA-cleared to provide fast, safe, and proven effective pain relief for patients battling post-traumatic (including post-surgical), acute, and chronic pain. MET is a form of TENS, however, it uses far less current. With a TENS device, the current can be several hundred times stronger than an Alpha-Stim.

What Makes Alpha-Stim Different from a TENS Unit?

Unlike a TENS unit, an Alpha-Stim M device can also use cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) via small clips on your earlobes to treat conditions that often occur alongside chronic pain, like anxiety, insomnia, and depression*. TENS units do not treat these indications. 

*Alpha-Stim is FDA-cleared for anxiety, insomnia, and pain only, with approval for depression outside of the United States.

Alpha-Stim and TENS Give Different Pain Reduction Results

Moreover, Although TENS can be quick to initially reduce some pain, the results are usually short-term. Also, the body typically adjusts to it. As a result, maintaining a therapeutic effect requires an increased amount of current. Conversely, the effects of Alpha-Stim are not only fast-acting but long-lasting and cumulative, allowing patients to decrease use over time. There is also a significant amount of research supporting the safety and effectiveness of Alpha-Stim.


• Blocks pain signals using the gate control theory• Modulates pain signals at the cellular level
• Is applied with adhesive electrodes• Is applied with either Smart Probes or AS-Trodes™
• Provides quick, but short-term, results• Provides quick, long lasting, sustainable results
• Requires increasing amounts of current to remain effective• Effects are cumulative, so the treatment frequency is decreased over time
 • Relieves the insomnia, depression, and anxiety that often accompanies chronic pain

First-Hand Report of Alpha-Stim vs. TENS

Alpha-Stim user Paul Schaum noted that he experienced “limited use” and “no lasting benefits” from TENS, but saw a significant difference and everything changed when he was introduced to Alpha-Stim.

“I have multiple areas of pain and once was pretty much limited to a wheelchair except for short distances; some days I couldn’t even lift up a pen. I was introduced to Alpha-Stim without being told what it was at a VA doctor’s appointment,” Schaum said. “The amazing effect of the device still astounds me. I have seen it have a similar effect on the military, disabled vets, and civilians. I am not pain-free, but it is manageable. Drugs were of little help and the untoward side effects were certainly not helpful. My medication list was cut in more than half after being on Alpha-Stim for a brief period. NO, I am not a paid spokesman, just a thankful patient.”

As Schaum referenced, in addition to providing lasting relief that is not available with TENS, Alpha-Stim stands apart from prescription pain medications by offering a treatment that comes with no risk of addiction and no lasting side effects.

Read more testimonials from patients who have used Alpha-Stim for pain management here.

Get pain relief with Alpha-stim

Schedule a telehealth visit with a health care professional today to get started with Alpha-Stim M for acute, chronic, and post-traumatic pain relief.

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop